Since March last year, the world has completely changed – the pandemic has led the student population in a very precarious situation, from an academic, social, economic and health perspectives. To tackle the negative consequences, we have adapted the Together, Moving Forward programme’s focus to make sure youth and student-led organisations can local solutions, supporting young people with refugee and migrant backgrounds, particularly impacted by the crisis.
In Belgium, Lama and her team from RWAN are proposing online classes to support women to develop IT and digital skills to look for a job and educational opportunities, or simply to communicate and organise their daily lives. How to use a computer, how to write an email or save documents online, how Zoom, Word and Excel are working, … are very important knowledge in a time where everything goes online.
In the next-door country, France, the Union of Exiled of Students, run by exiled students for exiled students, with the dedicated team of Camille, Line and Rudi, are focusing on mental health. While students are now very isolated without opportunities to socialise at University and to have a students job, the team is proposing weekly theatre-therapy sessions with a professional psychologist. The students can talk about their daily challenges and share tools to solve past traumas and current anxiety.
In Poland, Marysia and Patka from the Polish Hospitality Foundation had to adapt their project to the current situation. Usually, the project matches students wit kids with refugee/migrant background to help with their homework and polish language. Today, with homeschooling, it is very hard for parents who usually lack digital and language skills to help their children. The 120 mentor students are now supporting 120 kids in Warsaw to do their homework, to practice Polish and to develop IT skills. When needed and recommended by the team, kids can also have the support of psychologists. From their side, the students’ mentors are very well supported by the project team and psychologists to find the best ways to keep encouraging the school kids!
Further south, in Cyprus, the team of Holly, Tiziana and Michael from Project Phoenix is focusing on language skills development, and particularly English language which is the second language. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, all language classes and learning opportunities were stopped for people seeking asylum. With this project, the team proposes, every week, to a group of 10 students, online English classes with professionals teachers. Due to difficulties for students to connect to the internet, the project covers internet data so they can attend the class on their phones. Twice a month, participants can also attend tailor-made classes supporting employability: creation of CVs and cover letters, preparation for job interviews, etc.
Last but not least, a group of students from the faculty of journalism and mass communication of Thessaloniki, Greece, is focusing on fake news and is coordinating a group of fact-checkers composed of young people with refugee backgrounds so they can help people in their communities to detect fake news on migration information and Covid-related news.
What about the other projects? Well… most of them also had to adapt their activities to the pandemic. But all grantees are doing a great job to keep organising various online activities supporting social inclusion of young people with refugee backgrounds.